Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1930 & 39

William Edward Eaton (1909 - 1938)

William Edward Eaton was a long-distance runner who represented England in the International Cross Country Championship four times (1932-1936). In 1936 he broke the 10 miles and 6 miles British records. In August 1936 he represented Great Britain in the 10,000 metres at the Berlin Olympic Games, but failed to gain a medal.

He was born on 20th April 1909 in Salford. His parents were John Eaton and Florence (nee Broadhurst) Eaton (who were married at St Clement's Church, Salford in 1908). William became an arc welder at Metropolitan Vickers, Trafford Park, Manchester and in 1931 he married Rose Chicot at St Clement's Church, Salford. Rose was born in 1911 in Salford. She was the daughter of Richard W Chicot and Eliza Emily (nee Peters) Chicot (who were married at St Bartholomew's Church Salford in 1903). It is reported that William and Rose had two children, but their names are not known.

William was a keen athlete and joined Salford Harriers. The Guardian of 21st April 1931 reported, "Scoring his first success in open competition, William Edward Eaton of the Salford Harriers, (who is 22 years of age), gave a convincing display of good running in the 4 miles handicap. He went to the front in the last half mile, beating W.Beavers, the ex AAA champion by a hundred yards. Eaton has shown form above the average." On 1st August 1932 the Guardian reported "Salford Harriers revived their annual sports at Belle Vue, Manchester. The highlight was the two mile event where W E Eaton, the Manchester Business Houses champion, starting on 120 yards, beat the favourites C Ellis and W Beavers, (both on scratch) by 80 yards." The Guardian on 12th February 1934 reported, "East Lancashire Titles. Salford Harriers in their jubilee year achieved a dual success, never previously recorded by the club, when they won both the Senior and Junior Cross Country championships. W E Eaton, who finished second in 1932 was victorious by over 100 yards."  

William found outstanding form in 1936. Although he finished second in the National Cross Country Championships in early March he was selected for the team to represent England in the International meeting at Blackpool against France, Belgium, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. He triumphed by 30 seconds and the England team won. The Observer newspaper's headline of 5th April 1936 read "A Ten Mile Record. W.E Eaton's Great Win. Shrubb's Time Beaten at Last. A landmark in British athletic annals was reached in the AAA 10 mile championship at the White City, when W E Eaton of Salford Harriers, beat Alfred Shrubb's 32-year-old record by 10 seconds." William was selected to run the 10,000 meters at the Berlin Olympic Games in August 1936, but he got his tactics wrong and went off too fast. He was eventually overhauled and finished well outside the medal places. 

In 1937 William's form dipped and he decided to retire. But in 1938 he decided to train again with the aim of gaining the World 10 mile record held by the Finn Paavo Nurmi. Training on a cold evening in only shorts and singlet he caught a chill which developed into pneumonia. He died on 1st April in Withington Hospital, Manchester, aged 28 and was buried in plot A3(Diss) grave number 121 at Weaste Cemetery, Salford on 6th April 1938.